Our first official year of preschool at home begins soon. Learning at home is a great fit for us because it affords us unique and natural learning opportunities. One benefit of homeschooling is the chance to take field trips together. Field trips provide many educational benefits to children such as: real-life experience, tactile learning, and community service opportunities.
BENEFITS OF NATURE
Charlotte Mason was a homeschooling pioneer who believed learning in nature was extremely important. She wrote, “We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.”
According to Nature Play WA, children who regularly play in nature:
- Get sick less often
- Are more calm and less stressed
- Are stimulated through imagination, creativity, and acquire advanced language skills
SUPPORTS AMPLE NATURE TIME
- The Peaceful Preschool – The schedule is amazing because it sets aside one day per week for field trips.
- Exploring Nature with Children – This works well for my family because it is centered around being outdoors. If you are interested, make sure to click “Preview” on the upper right corner to view the handbook.
- Midsummer: Celebrating the Seasons -Celebrating The Seasons With Children is a series of handbooks written to guide you, step by step, in creating meaningful and authentic celebrations for your own family. If you are interested, make sure to click “Preview” on the upper right corner to view the handbook.
TWENTY NATURE FIELD TRIP IDEAS
While you can attend these places in your local area, many of them are located just outside of Austin, TX. I have also included links to the specific places we have been to in our area in case you are nearby!
1. Farm. Its wonderful to allow your children to taste fresh produce from a farm since it often tastes better. There are more nutrients preserved in the foods because the food is fresh. We have enjoyed wonderful visits to Sweet Berry Farms, Blue Butterfly Farms and Homestead Farms since they are close.
blue butterfly farm
2. Aquarium. These are great because children will have a chance to see fish and marine life up close. I can’t wait to take them to the Austin Aquarium. Their website states children can feed the fish, hold a snake and feed lizards and iguanas.
3. Nature Center. We are lucky to have many beautiful nature preserves and spots close to our home so we visit them often. Hamilton Pool Preserve and Westcave Preserve are a few minutes from our house. We have visited them both but since we are so close, we will be visiting more frequently. These two spots offer breathtaking beauty and a great opportunity to learn respect for nature.
4. Pumpkin Patch. Barton Hill Farms was wonderful when we attended last Fall. We look forward to returning this year because there are so many wonderful activities for children. Children can pick out and paint their own pumpkins, ride hayrides, climb tractors, pet farm animals and eat some delicious farm foods.
5. Garden Nursery. We attend the Natural Gardener because its a great resource for gardening, edible plants, plants, trees, and flowers. My children love to visit because there are farm animals for them to view, mazes for them to walk through, a butterfly garden, and many things to touch!
6. Library. We read to our children probably an hour or more per day so books are abundant in our home! We attempt to find as many of the books in the curriculums at the library first before trying Half Price books. Then, we use Amazon if we need to. My boys love our two local libraries because there are play area designed for children. They also love finding their own books to bring to me for a read aloud.
7. Farmer’s Market. Every Sunday, we go to the Lonestar Bee Cave Farmer’s Market to collect our CSA share and purchase a few more items. Learn more about why we love Farmer’s Markets here.
counting carrots with letter c unit
8. Zoo. In our first year here, we were members of the Austin Sanctuary Zoo. The zoo is unique because they have mainly animals that that were given from people that no longer could care for them, or animals that were rescued. My boys love to ride the zoo train too! Our favorite animals to see are the tigers, bears and wolves.
9. River. My lovely neighbor introduced me to a beautiful place at Camp Ben Mcculloch. We love how peaceful it is. We also live very close to Reimer’s Ranch Park. Pedernales Falls has also been another favorite watering spot.
Camp Ben Mcculloch
10. Bakery. I used to own a cupcake shop so we spent a great deal of time seeking out bakeries and cupcake shops in our past. It has been awhile since we have visited one so I’m thinking of attending one of these soon: Wildwood Bakehouse or The Steeping Room.
carrot cake cupcakes
11. Nature Hike. We are lucky since we have 10 acres. My husband and his Dad cut a walking path in the back of the property and we try to take a hike in the back once or twice a week.
then, Boys Nature Hike
12. Bird Sanctuary. I’m excited to check out Travis Audobon with our boys soon!
13. Book Store. We frequent Half Price Books probably too much, however, we love books! They are such a great learning tool.
14. Picnic. Pack your lunch and head outside for a treat! We utilize eating outdoors often while we are traveling and love heading to a local playground with a picnic.
Helping hands in kitchen. Fresh vegetables.
15. Beach. We recently went to the Galveston Island State Park and it was beautiful. Going to the beach is such a sensory experience. Children can easily make use of their senses at the sea: hearing the ocean waves, tasting the salty air, feeling the sand and sea, watching the waves come in.
then, beach time
16. Feed Store. I’m looking forward to taking our children to the feed store. When I was a child, I remembered looking forward to going to the feed store with my parents. I loved touching and seeing the baby animals for sale!
17. Pick Wildflowers. We loved Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center so much that we became members. The boys are exposed to a wide variety of wildflowers, trees, plants, grasses for this area. There is so much beauty there.
next, nourished children wildflowers
18. Bee Farm. We visited Bee Friendly Austin with a Wild and Free group. We learned so much, got up close to a hive, and ended our trip with honey sampling!
19. Fire Station. One of our favorite co-op visits was to the local Dripping Springs Fire Station. We climbed on a firetruck, learned about how firemen prepare for their job, touched heavy equipment and listened to the loud sirens.
20. Botanical Gardens. Visiting the Austin Botanical Gardens was amazing. It was a beautiful place with tranquil paths, waterfalls, native plants and wildlife. We are looking forward to another visit.
Finally, b is for bluebonnet
I’m finishing up my homeschool preschool organization, planning and ordering a few more supplies. Find a great supply list here.
Finally, what are your favorite nature field trip ideas?